"My sister reckons he's got a harem in there."
Mrs Next Door is serious. I started the conversation because I didn't know what else to talk to her about. Apart from the weather or her ailments.
She said, "You may hear some banging in the next few days. I've got a man coming round and he may be banging."
I said, "We're used to a bit of noise round here." Meaning the man below her's son and his late night indoor football.
"My sister reckons he's got a harem in there," she says.
"We don't really hear that much. Just a dull thud now and again." I don't want any trouble.
"God knows what he gets up to," she says. "At all hours of the day and night."
What on earth is he doing? How many women has he got in there? Is it like the cover of Electric Ladyland? How come we never see women going in or coming out? Surely there's not the room for any more than a couple of women. It's a small one bedroom maisonette. And what sort of noise are they making that carries upstairs in the middle of the night? I'd always assumed harems to be pretty quiet when the man's at home.
"I reckon he's drinking," she says.
That's funny. I think he reckons I'm drinking. Maybe she's drinking.
"The police came round the other night," she says. "Just at the time when everything was all quiet."